I bought the Stihl Farm Boss today. I bought this instead of the Echo (although the Echo came highly recommended not just by Sparky, but by a friend of ours who works on small machines) because Stihl is sold and services at our local hardware store, just a few minutes away. The closest Echo dealer is about 30 minutes south of here. I thought that it might be better if he needed the sawteeth sharpened or some sort of repair to go directly to the nearby store--besides, the folks who own the place are great and I like supporting them.
I spent just over $400 and got the 18" saw, an extra chain, the case, some other stuff in a small bag (don't ask me what)--and, after Christmas, he can take it in and get it fueled up there and started for the first time, to make sure all is running well and have any of his questions answered. Seemed like a good deal for what I priced.
Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it, and I will be looking for Jim's safety suggestions next, for clothing, gloves, etc. Mary Ann